#1 Guides of India
November has become one of my favorite months since our vacations are scheduled during this time of the year. This year's particularly nostalgic as post-Covid, our first vacation was in Rajasthan last year same time. We started from Ajmer to Udaipur to Jodhpur and finally to Jaipur before heading home. That's two weeks of travel in the winters of Rajasthan, soaking in the culture and gorging on finger-licking food throughout.
During our time there, we visited many forts and historical sites that all had one thing in common. It wasn't the grandeur of the structure, the stories of epic battles, or the opulent lifestyles of royals. It was about the people who narrated these stories to visitors day and night with the same enthusiasm every day. I'm referring to the tour guides I found in almost every location. And that's who I want to talk about today.
The Guides of India
I've come across these guides more often than I can remember. You'll find them at every fort, Mahal, and historical site in India to bring us stories of the past. Everyone traveler who comes to them is greeted equally and given complete attention till they cover every nook and cranny of the place. But I've seldomly seen people being open to accepting their services. Some feel it's a waste of money, and they can explore these sites better on their own, only to get stuck at something and then try their luck at Google. Some are there for fun and not for the stories. And some don't give any heed to these people as they find them irritating.
While I'm in favor of people making their own choices, what surprises me the most is that these aren't driven by how one wants to explore a site, but by the assumption that Guides won't be any good.
These Guides connect you with the history right at the epicenter but aren't given their fair share of attention. To think of it, they are part of a larger community that not only preserves history but also brings it to the masses. Yes, you can sometimes end up with the wrong Guide, but that's pure luck. There are times when I've not opted for a Guide. But I can vividly remember when a guide narrated an intriguing fact and how he captured my attention, rather than my google searches that lived a short life.
When you think of any historical place, while the photos or reels take precedence in travel plans, it's incomplete unless you truly know the history behind such sites. And these Guides bridge that gap for you and add a personalized touch to your visits.
Giving people a chance
I hope people take chances on people more than on technology to connect with history when visiting historical sites as it can lead to a unique and personalized experience for you. Maybe, you'll end up with a story for yourself to remember for years.
By the way, despite the indifferent treatment they receive at times, what do you think pushes these Guides to show up every day and tell the same stories again and again for years? Is it just for money or is it a passion for history? Or is there something else that resonates with them to be a guide for everyone who comes for a tryst with history?
Next time you hire a Guide, let me know the experience you had with the Guide and how was it different than your otherwise usual.
Until next month,
PS - There is a Tour Guide Federation of India consisting of more than 2500 professional guides with their own Code of Practice. I didn't know this until last year. Did you?